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back to article Salty Saturn moon plumes suggest stuff of life

Massive geysers on Saturn's moon Enceladus may be fed by a salty ocean beneath the surface, adding weight to speculation it harbors the essential building blocks needed for life. Enceladian plumes, courtesy of NASA Scientists working on NASA's Cassini mission have detected sodium salts in ice grains of Saturn's outermost ring …

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Silver badge

Of course it does

Arthur C Clarke was right, he just got Saturn and Jupiter confused. Although there isn't a spot made up of monoliths, slow gravitational compression (Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism) will turn Saturn into a star, or a sun as far as Enceladus is concerned. Alas not in my lifetime though.

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Alien

@adnim

"he just got Saturn and Jupiter confused"

No, he didn't. Originally the end destination was Saturn. It appears the film people couldn't think up a convincing representation of Saturn and so switched to Jupiter. (A quick search results in this answer as to why they switched - ymmv.)

Clarke kept Saturn as the end destination in the first book but switched to Jupiter in the rest.

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Bronze badge
Boffin

Ocean moons

"Arthur C Clarke was right, he just got Saturn and Jupiter confused. "

No, he didn't. Ever since fly-by of the Voyager probes, the Jovian moon Europa has been strongly suspected of having an ocean under its ice cover, and this was already being discussed at the time Clarce wrote the "2010". The interesting thing is there now seems to be at least one other moon with an iced-over ocean.

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Alien

@ adnim

actually, Clarke got it spot on: in the novel the Discovery is heading for Saturn, not Jupiter. This was changed for the movie primarily because Douglas Trumbull couldn't come up with a convincing effect for Saturn's rings, although he later got the hang of it and recycled them for Silent Running.

And Austin: man, that's some subtle headlining. Nice work.

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Aurora Borealis

Looks more like an electric Aurora Borealis to me?

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Paris Hilton

I for one...

...welcome our new salty spurting overlords. Er, hang on.

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Paris Hilton

Chemistard

"nearly every time it found at least some sodium within the particles ... The measurements also contained carbonates like soda"

"Sodium combined with chloride are the two major components of salt."

Good grief.

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Paris because she has probably detected saltiness in her time.

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He WAS right

It was Saturn in the original book if I remember correctly.

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Paris Hilton

Missed chance...

... for a subtitle about salty eruptions...

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Gold badge
Alien

Re: @adnim

More to that.

The original monolith site was Iapetus, which has the "cosmic beacon" effect of having a higher albedo on one side than the other while also being tidelocked to Saturn. The effect here is that it appears to blink, brightening and darkening as it orbits.

When they got their first pictures back from one of the probes, there was a suspicous black spot right smack in the centre of the bright side. This was ringed on the first print and had the words "Arthur was right!" written next to it.

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Joke

The Answer

The explanation is quite obvious - there must be some giant whales underneath the ice there. No need for this science nonsense!

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Silver badge
Alien

Life in our solar system?

Could A Man From Mars, really be a Man from Saturn? I notice he's keeping very quiet on this story.

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Silver badge

OK, I humbly acquiesce

Having only seen the film and not read the book I concede that I have little idea of what I am talking about.

'Tis Nice to be educated though, thank you.

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Run this by me again

1. Fact: sodium ions found in the ices of Saturn's outer ring.

2. Fact: sodium not observed in Enceladus plumes.

3. Conclusion: there exists a subterranean salt (NaCl) water (H20) ocean on/in Enceladus.

WTF?

You have to hand it to these guys - they won't take no for an answer. They looked for water on comets - didn't find much (about 1% of what was expected). They looked for water on Mars - didn't find much (lots of protons on the surface, so all the water must be underground). And now they're looking on the Moon (polar craters) and anywhere there's have a chance of getting away with a quick modus tolens and a barrel of pork.

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